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International News

Asia: HIV/AIDS Spreads Along Drug Routes, Report Says

February 11, 2002

Increasing drug use in Asia is accelerating the spread of HIV/AIDS along drug trafficking routes from the so-called Golden Triangle to nations like Indonesia, and governments are doing too little to combat it, a report says. The report on 22 Asian countries, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, said Asian governments are fighting sexual transmission of HIV but are not doing enough to prevent the virus from spreading among injection drug users.

"Without such action, Asia will continue to be home to what threatens to be among the worst regional AIDS epidemics on Earth," said the report by the Center for Harm Reduction, one of Asia's foremost health and medical research bodies. Seven million people in Asia have HIV/AIDS. The report said Asia has few HIV/AIDS prevention programs for drug users, such as needle exchanges, and that many drug users share needles cleaned simply by cold water, not the recommended boiling water or bleach.

The report, available at www.chr.asn.au, said that Indonesia was most at risk, with HIV infections from injection drug use rising from less than 1 percent before 2000 to 19 percent of total infections. It said that by September 2001, there were 2,313 cases of HIV in Indonesia, of which 449 were in injecting drug users. Half of the nations 2 million drug users are injectors, it said.

The percentage of HIV blamed on injection drug use in China was 70 percent in 2001, up from 66 percent in 1997. Injection drug users make of 75 percent of persons with HIV in Iran; 65 percent in Vietnam; and 54 percent in Thailand. The report found injection drug use on the rise among Asian women, particularly those in the sex industry. It further noted that incarcerations are increasing in Asia, "despite the fact that there is mounting evidence from the Asian region . . . that incarceration not only does not help drug dependent people cease drug use but hugely increases risk for HIV transmission among and from these populations."

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Adapted from:
Reuters
02.07.02; Michael Perry



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

 

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